The move was made to clear a roster spot for Mark Ellis, who will be activated from the disabled list on Wednesday.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser (via Twitter), the move was made to give Barton a chance "to get his stroke back." She also states that manager Bob Melvin still believes Barton will be important to the team this year.
Barton has been stuck in a season-long slump, batting just .212 without a single homer. His defense has also been shaky at times, committing eight errors in his 65 games.
Meanwhile, waiting in Sacramento is Chris Carter, the power-hitting prospect who, until recently, did not have a set position. Since returning from his thumb injury, Carter has played almost exclusively at first base for the River Cats.
He played five of his six games on a rehab assignment with Class-A Stockton at first base as well.
In 18 total games at first base this season between Stockton and Sacramento, Carter has committed two errors.
He has made his presence known with the bat though. He hit three homers in his brief stint with Stockton, and managed four more upon his return to Sacramento.
He still needs to work on hitting a breaking pitch, and should definitely improve his fielding. But he represents the offensive threat that the A's have sorely lacked this season.
He can provide the power that Barton was unable to muster while manning the corner infield position teams typically rely on for run production.
Barton's demotion pits the two players against each other in a direct competition to win the position outright.
Okay, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but they should be splitting playing time in Sacramento to see which player earns the right to come back to Oakland this season. It will be interesting to see which player gets the bulk of the time at first base.
Barton has the edge defensively, Carter the edge offensively.
In the mean time, Conor Jackson gets the nod at the major league level.
Jackson is a free agent at the end of the season though, and while the A's could choose to retain him, the reigns at first base likely belong to either Barton or Carter, long-term.
The job was Barton's to lose, and he lost it.
Now Chris Carter must prove that he deserves the opportunity to overtake Barton on the depth charts rather than allow Barton a shot at reclaiming the job.
One thing is for sure, the River Cats box scores just became a daily must read item.